Welcome to the November 2011 GenderCC newsletter, aiming to keep the gender and climate change community up-to-date on our activities and provide the latest news from the gender and climate change community as a whole. In this issue, we focus on the upcoming COP 17 in Durban, South Africa, as well as recent developments on the design of the Green Climate Fund. This edition of the GenderCC newsletter also reports on the public hearing on gender and climate change that was held by the European Parliament in October.
For more information and updates, please visit our website http://www.gendercc.net/. Furthermore, we would like to encourage you to contribute to the newsletter. Please send your articles to newsletter[at]gendercc.net
We hope you will enjoy reading this issue of the GenderCC newsletter!
Bettina, Sally and Katrin
for the GenderCC Team in Berlin
Green Climate Fund - 4th Transitional Committee Meeting
Activities of the Gender and Climate Change Community
News on Gender and Climate Change
GenderCC – Women for Climate Justice, in cooperation with LAMOSA, is pleased to host an interna-tional conference for grassroots women in Durban, South Africa, on 24 and 25 November 2011. The conference will take place just prior to the UNFCCC's COP 17 and will focus on how grassroots women can take part in the global movement towards achieving a fair, just and legally binding international climate change agreement. The conference will bring together grassroots women from various world regions and representatives of development organisations, NGOs and other groups working on the issues of gender and climate change.
In particular, the objectives of the conference are to:
As countries prepare for COP 17 and work on their negotiation positions – which in most cases do not consider gendered impacts of climate change or gender-sensitive strategies for mitigation – it is time for grassroots women to come together and strengthen their voice.
The conference is kindly supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit.
Please visit our website - GenderCC Updates - for more information.
The number of people on the planet is growing, with global population now at 7 billion. Although population growth is sometimes cited as one of the leading causes of climate change, it is incorrect to assume a direct correlation between growth in global population and growth in global emissions. The contribution to climate change made by different people in different countries varies enormously. Of crucial relevance from an emissions perspective are population dynamics and composition. Ultimately, it is the level of emissions-intensive consumption – which is typically much higher in developed countries (generally with low fertility) than in developing countries (more likely to have high fertility) – that contributes to climate change. Since many high-emitting countries are exhibiting low or no population growth, policies aimed at population control will not address the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
Population stabilisation policies are typically implemented through family planning programmes, which primarily target female fertility and reproductive health. Whilst all women should have access to family planning, this must not be treated or re-framed as a climate change solution. The health, wellbeing and rights of women should remain at the core of all family planning programs.
It should also be noted that average global fertility has dropped dramatically over the past few decades – in most parts of the world, women today are having approximately half the number of children of women fifty years ago. The main reason that population continues to grow despite much lower fertility rates across the globe is that there is currently a large number of people of reproductive age.
To find out more about the gender perspective on population growth go to: GenderCC - Activity Fields - Population.
By Mrs Dorah Marema of GenderCC Southern Africa and Dr Yvette Abrahams of the South African Commission on Gender Equality
What we hope to see from COP 17:
Finally, financing is not the be all and the end all. For quite some time, the negotiations on financing have largely determined the process of the other negotiations. But there are still more practical considerations for the rest of the negotiations like adaptation, technology, capacity building and other activities to move forward. In addition, there are more basic issues such as access to land and resources such as food and water, citizenship and conflicts, among others, which must be immediately addressed to ensure that new funding does not fuel further dispossession, indignity and disempowerment.
We call on the South African government to lead by example in these negotiations. We will expect our government to exercise ethical leadership for both the continent and the developing South at COP 17 and beyond. We are the children of Mandela, Biko and Sobukwe. We expect our government to act morally because it is the right thing to do!
By Gotelind Alber (edited)
While the climate negotiations for future commitments to succeed the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period are advancing alarmingly slowly, the process to design the Green Climate Fund is under way. This Fund will be designated as the operating entity of the financial mechanism of the UNFCCC and will presumably have to govern large amounts of funding coming from developed countries to support adaptation and mitigation actions in developing countries.
A “Transitional Committee” (TC) has been created to develop a structure for the GCF, to be presented to COP17 in December for approval. Observer organisations to the UNFCCC were allowed to attend the TC meetings and submit their ideas and proposals to the TC. Women and Gender observer NGOs, thanks to their new status as observer constituencies, attended the meetings and prepared submissions and statements calling for a gender-responsive approach to climate finance. Several governments and development NGOs support these demands, including Iceland and Malawi.
This is a crucial opportunity to overcome the gender blindness of existing climate funds and financing instruments by integrating gender equality and gender justice as overarching principles in the GCF. This must go beyond gender parity in the bodies governing the fund, and include compliance with a human rights framework and the mainstreaming of a gender perspective across all funding windows and instruments. Furthermore, direct access to the Fund should be possible, including for sub-national actors such as women's and gender groups.
Adaptation funding must take into account the needs and requests of vulnerable groups, local communities and ecosystems, as well as the contributions of holders of traditional and indigenous knowledge. It must be gender responsive, in terms of objectives, approaches, processes and actions. Increasing efforts for institutional adaptation must be combined with community-based adaptation in order to achieve greater resilience. Infrastructure and services which benefit women should be prioritised, including improvements in shelters and sanitation in disaster-prone areas. Moreover, adaptation strategies that build community resilience must address the underlying causes of vulnerability, such as poverty, discrimination and exclusion.
Mitigation funding needs to include projects and programmes that support women’s access to energy and transport services. Solutions that prioritise demand-side approaches will benefit women more than large-scale supply-side investments. Multi-level approaches and arrangements, providing guidance and incentives to local and regional actors and enabling them to contribute to mitigation in a measurable, reportable and verifiable way, are essential to effective climate policy. Such approaches will, in addition, open up opportunities to improve the involvement of women in climate policy-making.
To read more on Gender and Climate Change Solutions, see the NIKK Magazin 2.2011.
The fourth meeting of the Transitional Committee (TC) for the design of the Green Climate Fund was held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 16 to 18 October. Dorah Marema of GenderCC Southern Africa attended the meeting on behalf of GenderCC. This was the final meeting of the TC prior to COP 17. While most members of the TC were ultimately willing to compromise and accept the proposed text on the Fund's governing instrument, the TC was unable to reach consensus because of outright objections from the US and Saudi Arabia. Thus, the TC was unable to recommend its report to the COP for 'adoption'; instead, it will go to the COP for 'consideration'. This means that the design of the Fund may be opened up again for negotiation at COP 17.
For a detailed account of the TC meeting and negotiation process, see the summary report by Liane Schalatek of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung North America.
Climate change is a critical issue that has implications for many aspects of gender equality. Women are underrepresented in the ongoing international climate change negotiations and many aspects of climate change policy and responses, such as mitigation, adaptation, policy development and decision making, often do not include a gender perspective.
On Tuesday 11 October 2011, a public hearing was held in Brussels at the European Parliament’s Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) on the topic of “Women and Climate Change”. This was the first time that the issue of gender and climate change was addressed at EU level in an official meeting.
The experts who gave presentations included Irene Dankelmann (Women’s Environment and Development Organization, University of Nijmegen), Ioana Borza (gender expert, European Institute for Gender Equality), Liane Schalatek (Heinrich Böll Foundation North America) and Gotelind Alber (GenderCC board member and independent advisor and researcher on climate and energy policy). The experts emphasized that gender dimensions need to be taken into consideration in all EU policies. Gotelind Alber highlighted three areas of action for the EU on gender and climate change:
The Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, made time to participate in the meeting. In her comments, she stated that gender and climate change is an important issue indeed. However, she only acknowledged the relevance of gender in regard to developing countries. The FEMM Committee is currently producing a report on the issue, and hopefully the parliamentarians will address it to its full extent.
Find more information on the experts and the hearing on the European Parliament FEMM website (go to “Activities / Events“ ata the menu barr on the left) or take a look at a short video after the hearing made by the European Greens.
By Julia Willers
Mozambique belongs to those countries on the African continent that are prone to natural hazards like cyclones, floods and droughts. Within a three-months stay in the southern part of Mozambique (in a district called Govuro), I researched the connectedness between these natural hazards, vulnerability and gender.
The basic angle that my research was based upon is the assumption that the population of a certain area is never affected equally by potentially destructive natural phenomena as cyclones or floods. This topic is discussed by development studies as well as human geography and anthropology. For my own research the work done by Blaikie et al. (2004: At risk. Natural hazards, people's vulnerability and disasters. Second edition. New York: Routledge) was fundamentally important. According to the equation R = H × V (Risk = Hazard ×Vulnerability) which Blaikie et al. (2004: 49) present, natural disasters would not happen without a potentially vulnerable population living in an area being affected by natural hazards. Above that, Blaikie et al. (2004) state that for a population which lives in certain conditions of vulnerability, there are several risks being located already within daily life (e.g. precarious land use forms, poverty, etc.). In the case of the occurrence of a natural hazard, the vulnerability of the population even grows.
Using mainly a qualitative methodology (Participatory Rural Appraisal, group discussions, expert interviews and participant observation) during my field stay in Govuro, I tried to find out whether there are differences within women's and men's vulnerability with regard to the regularly occurring hazards. In order to get a broad basis of data, I conducted 10 PRA-group discussions with the local communities (groups separated by gender). My aim was to grasp the understanding of local men and women concerning their own as well as the other gender's vulnerability. Adding the findings gained by interviewing more than 30 government and NGO key actors, the following results can be listed.
The principle factors concerning men's and women's vulnerability are power mechanisms that exist between the genders. The social organization that is based upon patriliny, the work division of labor by gender, the different roles that women and men adopt, different expectations concerning the “appropriate” behavior of a “woman” and a “man”, and also the different access to material and immaterial resources influence people's vulnerability. Against this background, women in the researched area become more vulnerable than men in certain situations of natural hazards.
For further information, please contact Julia Willers M.A. (julia.willers(at)uni-bayreuth.de or julia.willers82(at)googlemail.com).
By Mrs Dorah Marema of GenderCC Southern Africa and Dr Yvette Abrahams of the South African Commission on Gender Equality (SABC)
Climate change is one of the biggest threats to human kind today. It also poses a unique and general challenge at the global level. It concerns everyone on this planet. But the people likely to suffer most from the impacts of climate change are those least responsible for causing it.
The most immediate effect of climate change, which we are already noticing, is extreme weather. The changes in seasons and the increase in catastrophic droughts, floods, hurricanes and typhoons are destabilizing not only world food production but also our ecologically fragile political and economic systems. However, vulnerability to climate change is not only related to environmental forces, but to social conditions, too; for example, due to their low capacity to adapt, the poor are the most vulnerable group within various developing countries.
Women in particular, with their disproportionate share of the poor, are therefore among the most vulnerable groups in developing countries. In many parts of Africa, climate change threatens to unravel women’s lives, undermining decades of efforts aimed at improving women’s lives and livelihoods. Unfortunately, rural women still have a lack knowledge on the imminent dangers posed by climate change. The frequency and severity of climate extremes often leave women unable to cope due to the fact that women often have to juggle their reproductive roles and productive roles.
The rural poor in many developing countries are more dependent for their livelihood on natural resources that are threatened by climate change. With changes in the climate, traditional food sources become more unpredictable and scarce. This exposes these people to the loss of harvests, often their sole sources of food and income.
The good news is that we have the power to create positive change. A different world is not only possible, but it too, is already coming into being. There is evidence to show that a rise in carbon emissions does not necessarily mean an increase in development, and that there are many real world examples of how cutting carbon emissions have been combined with real and lasting improvements in human welfare. It is not a coincidence that the nations which have succeeded in both cutting carbon emissions and strengthening the economy are also some of the most democratic states in the world. Building capacity, developing people, growing entrepreneurship, and promoting innovation are seldom well done under dictatorships.
By Cai Yiping (edited)
Climate justice is inseparable from gender justice. Climate change links to other gender issues, such as the division of labour, domestic life, reproductive health, and migration among many others. Because of these links, we must take gender into account while analysing climate solutions in order to avoid heightening existing gender injustices.
To date, gender issues have hardly figured in the international policy discourse on climate change, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol. One government delegate responded during the climate talks in October 2009, “We know that gender issues are important. Don't worry; we will include them in the discussion. But right now, we have other priorities, more urgent issues.” Gender is often overlooked in discussions about strategies to reduce the source of greenhouse gases because of the “technical” or “scientific” nature of the strategies. This view ignores that women are mainly responsible for ensuring energy supply and security at the household level. The dominant perspective is that women are seen as victims or members of vulnerable groups, instead of agents of change, leaders and decision-makers. However, this may be changing thanks to feminist lobbying and the increasing involvement of gender specialists in this field.
Read the whole article here.
Eunice Stella Warue is from Kenya and holds a Bsc. in Environmental Health from Kenyatta University and a diploma in Environmental Studies. Eunice is a specialist in environmental health and has been working on climate change issues at the community level, including gender mainstreaming and water and sanitation. Eunice has worked with women's groups who were trying to address the effects of climate change and trying to adapt to the impacts of climate change in the rural areas of Kenya. She has also been part of Kenyan delegations as a gender and climate change expert and also part of the women Delegate Fund under Finnish funding. Eunice’s interests in climate change are on adaptation, financing and capacity building. Her personal interests include travelling, playing badminton, reading novels and inspirational books and, the best of them all, spending time with her son. Eunice is currently undertaking her Masters in Integrated Water Resource Management at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Eunice has been involved with GenderCC since 2009 and is a member of the GenderCC Steering Committee.